Family land dispute link denied

Complainants say sex abuse allegations nothing to do with disagreement about property say.

Complainants say sex abuse allegations nothing to do with disagreement about property say.

Women who allege an in-law sexually offended against them as children about 50 years ago, say their claims have nothing to do with any dispute over family land.

The defence says otherwise and yesterday, during day two of the now 75-year-old man’s jury trial in Gisborne District Court, focused on animosity towards him about land issues by one of the complainants in particular.

The fourth of five complainants to give evidence, the woman was the first to lay a complaint against the man. His name is withheld to protect the women’s identities.

Yesterday in evidence the witness said her complaint was prompted by a younger sister’s revelation of similar allegations.
The woman then inquired of other girls they were raised with if they too had complaints. Three more came forward.

Between them, the five complainants allege offending by the man spanning 19 years between 1969 and 1988. The allegations are reflected in a charge of rape, two attempted rapes, assault with intent to commit rape, and eight counts of indecencies with girls under 12 or between 12 and 16.
The complainants were all whangai parented by an East Coast couple (now deceased) who raised more than 20 children on a remote 467.2-hectare property, now operating as a family trust.

The accused's wife is one of the couple's biological children. She was raised alongside four of the complainants but is older than them and was living with the accused at the time of the alleged offending. The fifth complainant is younger.

The accused and his wife at times lived near the family and regularly socialised with them.
In 1995, the accused's wife was issued an occupation order from the Maori Land Court to live on 4000 square metres (an acre) of the family land. The home she and the accused built has spectacular ocean views and beach access.
The defence claims this case has been fabricated by the women to get the accused, who they regard as an interloper, off that land.

The fourth complainant claimed that during the early 1980s there was an incident in which the accused indecently touched her and another in which he attempted to rape her. She did not say anything as she did not want to hurt his wife, who she called aunt but loved like a mother.
In evidence, she said her complaint to police in October, 2017, was nothing to do with ongoing land issues between her and the accused.

Cross-examined by counsel Michael Lynch, she confirmed she was one of five newly-elected trustees of the property in February, 2017, and that the accused's wife, who had previously been one, had resigned. She denied her aunt’s resignation was due to these allegations. There did not seem to be any ill-feeling by her aunt about stepping down, the complainant said.

She confirmed being a lesser shareholder in the land than her aunt, without the same rights to occupy it.

Mr Lynch put it to her that having tried all manner of other hostile ways to get the accused off the land — accusations of tax evasion, theft from a honey company, and thefts of animals — the woman resorted to this court case. She denied it, saying she had no power to remove the man from the property.

Mr Lynch produced transcripts of recorded phone calls and Facebook posts as evidence of the woman’s animosity towards the accused. Her beliefs he did not belong on the land and that it was not his to occupy, were clear.
The woman confirmed this, but said she would feel the same way towards her own husband if he were to assume a right to the family land.

Land issues were not relevant to this court case, the complainant said. She had no ambition to remove the accused from the land and no power to do so. Her dispute with him about the land was simply that she wanted to ensure he was not individually profiting from it, which was against her grandfather's (whangai father's) wishes. She was not alone in that view, the woman said.
One of the phone conversations to which Mr Lynch referred was made at a time when none of the land’s owners (she thought there was 11 at that time) had seen anything from it in the years since her grandfather’s death.

Of the alleged offending, Mr Lynch suggested the woman’s inability to accurately pinpoint a year in which it took place, and her vagueness about details, was because it was a fabrication. The woman disagreed. Mr Lynch asked why as an adult in earlier years, she had continued to visit and stay with the couple if the man had truly done these things to her as a child? The woman replied her visits were to see her aunt.
Cross-examination of the complainant continued this morning.

Judge Stephen Harrop is presiding.


• Yesterday’s print version of this report on the trial stated a house occupied by the accused and his wife was the family home in which the complainants grew up. That is incorrect. The accused's and his wife's section is on a different part of the family land, their house was not the family home.


Women who allege an in-law sexually offended against them as children about 50 years ago, say their claims have nothing to do with any dispute over family land.

The defence says otherwise and yesterday, during day two of the now 75-year-old man’s jury trial in Gisborne District Court, focused on animosity towards him about land issues by one of the complainants in particular.

The fourth of five complainants to give evidence, the woman was the first to lay a complaint against the man. His name is withheld to protect the women’s identities.

Yesterday in evidence the witness said her complaint was prompted by a younger sister’s revelation of similar allegations.
The woman then inquired of other girls they were raised with if they too had complaints. Three more came forward.

Between them, the five complainants allege offending by the man spanning 19 years between 1969 and 1988. The allegations are reflected in a charge of rape, two attempted rapes, assault with intent to commit rape, and eight counts of indecencies with girls under 12 or between 12 and 16.
The complainants were all whangai parented by an East Coast couple (now deceased) who raised more than 20 children on a remote 467.2-hectare property, now operating as a family trust.

The accused's wife is one of the couple's biological children. She was raised alongside four of the complainants but is older than them and was living with the accused at the time of the alleged offending. The fifth complainant is younger.

The accused and his wife at times lived near the family and regularly socialised with them.
In 1995, the accused's wife was issued an occupation order from the Maori Land Court to live on 4000 square metres (an acre) of the family land. The home she and the accused built has spectacular ocean views and beach access.
The defence claims this case has been fabricated by the women to get the accused, who they regard as an interloper, off that land.

The fourth complainant claimed that during the early 1980s there was an incident in which the accused indecently touched her and another in which he attempted to rape her. She did not say anything as she did not want to hurt his wife, who she called aunt but loved like a mother.
In evidence, she said her complaint to police in October, 2017, was nothing to do with ongoing land issues between her and the accused.

Cross-examined by counsel Michael Lynch, she confirmed she was one of five newly-elected trustees of the property in February, 2017, and that the accused's wife, who had previously been one, had resigned. She denied her aunt’s resignation was due to these allegations. There did not seem to be any ill-feeling by her aunt about stepping down, the complainant said.

She confirmed being a lesser shareholder in the land than her aunt, without the same rights to occupy it.

Mr Lynch put it to her that having tried all manner of other hostile ways to get the accused off the land — accusations of tax evasion, theft from a honey company, and thefts of animals — the woman resorted to this court case. She denied it, saying she had no power to remove the man from the property.

Mr Lynch produced transcripts of recorded phone calls and Facebook posts as evidence of the woman’s animosity towards the accused. Her beliefs he did not belong on the land and that it was not his to occupy, were clear.
The woman confirmed this, but said she would feel the same way towards her own husband if he were to assume a right to the family land.

Land issues were not relevant to this court case, the complainant said. She had no ambition to remove the accused from the land and no power to do so. Her dispute with him about the land was simply that she wanted to ensure he was not individually profiting from it, which was against her grandfather's (whangai father's) wishes. She was not alone in that view, the woman said.
One of the phone conversations to which Mr Lynch referred was made at a time when none of the land’s owners (she thought there was 11 at that time) had seen anything from it in the years since her grandfather’s death.

Of the alleged offending, Mr Lynch suggested the woman’s inability to accurately pinpoint a year in which it took place, and her vagueness about details, was because it was a fabrication. The woman disagreed. Mr Lynch asked why as an adult in earlier years, she had continued to visit and stay with the couple if the man had truly done these things to her as a child? The woman replied her visits were to see her aunt.
Cross-examination of the complainant continued this morning.

Judge Stephen Harrop is presiding.


• Yesterday’s print version of this report on the trial stated a house occupied by the accused and his wife was the family home in which the complainants grew up. That is incorrect. The accused's and his wife's section is on a different part of the family land, their house was not the family home.


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